A Cornwall senior says that she is “Still Kicking – But Not as High,” in her published memoir which was recently launched to the public at a reception held at her residence.
“I felt I wanted to leave a legacy,” said Jessie Boyd, 96, who moved to Cornwall in the 1930s, long before most of us were alive.
Born in Kemptville in 1916, Boyd, one of ten siblings, said that back then, it was not an easy time in Canada and wondered how they ever managed to live with such a big family.
They did just fine despite the time and she would eventually go to business school, get married and start a family.
It was divine intervention that took her to Cornwall, she says, after her husband was killed in the Second World War, leaving her alone with two young daughters to raise. To this day, she would never re-marry.
“I didn’t know what I was going to do,” said Boyd who, on the advice of her sister, moved to town and bought a beauty salon. She had no experience in the business, she said, but would eventually learn the ropes, teach others and grow her establishment into the biggest one in eastern Ontario. “I worked very hard. It was a challenge trying to keep on top of it.”
“Didn’t stay long in the business, 22 years,” she said. One could only imagine that someone who’d lived almost a century would think that this was fleeting time.
After selling her salon, Boyd worked in real estate until she retires at the age of 80.
The grandmother of seven and great-grandmother to six says that she’s had a good life. She remains very active swims every day, loves to travel, has many friends. “I never sit, she says. “
When she was seventy, Boyd taught herself to play piano and now entertains seniors. “Music is consoling to me. I don’t consider myself a great musician, but everyone likes to hear me play.”
Her book is as much a history of the city as it is a memoir. Boyd tells of “the canal at the bottom of Pitt Street and the boats passing so close.”
At the time, Cornwall was a busy city. All the factories were busy making products for the war and the government. Women replaced the men in the workforce. After the war, things changed she said; most of the factories closed.
“In ‘52 the Seaway came and brought thousands of people and again Cornwall was good,” said Boyd. “Until after (it opened) and everybody left. We lost our canal; we lost a lot.”
Boyd says that although she’ll not likely see it, she says that she’s always had a dream that Cornwall would eventually become a big city, and believes that we’re well on our way.
“We have some businessmen here who are trying to put this thing together,” she says. “It’s a great place for seniors. You can be from A to B in 15 minutes. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.”
Proceed from the sale of the book will go to World Vision, which Boyd has supported for over 25 years and for which she was recently recognize.
“I was taught to be a giver with my family,” she said of her commitment to the charity. “There’s still hunger out there.”
To purchase a copy, contact Boyd directly, at 613-933-7125. A tax receipt from World Vision will be provided.
“I tell you one thing about being old,” said the spry nonagenarian. “You don’t dare slow down because once you do, it catches up with you.”